Teaching History with Art and Artifacts
There are so many ways to teach things. Choosing one that interests you, and especially your children, will be much more effective than any textbook or rote memorization of facts. You probably already know this but maybe aren’t sure how to design a program. Let me share with you how I teach history through art and artifacts.
1. Choose a spine.
I start with a spine book. This year we are using Story of the World: Vol. 1 Ancient Times as our spine. And because it’s a very easy read, I also have my 6th grader read independently from a few different history books for whatever time period or civilization we are on. But the spine gives me the framework to build upon. Once you have chosen a good spine, you can get started.
2. Find a great reference book.
This is essential. I found the most perfect book for just this purpose: History of the World in 1,000 Objects.Not only does if offer amazing photographic images, but it also tells us things about them from a historical context. I had been using art books from the library but it required so much more work from me. I had to dig and dig and cross check dates from several resources for accuracy.
Not with this book, I can so easily find the snippet I need for art appreciation for each civilization. Not only that, but it references them by time period and it also offers a comprehensive timeline in the back of the book! It was just what I needed as I proceed with my program so that we can add the art and artifacts we have discussed to our timeline with confidence.
3. Add living books.
Add living books to your program next. What history you don’t cover your child can fill in with engaging historical fiction and other stories from those civilizations. Choose books that are on or below your child’s reading level for his readers. Maybe every now and then add one that’s a challenge to stretch their ability. But be sure to offer quality confidence builders often. Then select one read aloud for each civilization for you to read together. If you don’t have the time, try audio books in the car while on errands. You’ll be surprised how much your children will love them!
4. Keep a Timeline and Cover Geography.
Since you are doing mostly reading through the week, spend at least one day of instruction adding to your timeline what you have learned about and find places on the map you’ve talked about. While you’re teaching them about these ancient places you can point out what countries they are today. Isn’t that so much more comprehensive than just memorizing facts from a text? Perhaps you could use push pins on a map to mark where an artifact has been found. One fun thing I’m doing with my co-op class is stamping their “passports” for all the places we learn about.
5. Do hands on projects.
For us this year our hands on projects are art projects. As we cover each civilization, we do some fun project to remind us of what we discussed. Sometimes it’s once every two weeks or even only once per month. We just do them when it seems right and we have some time. For Babylon and Assyria, we made glue paintings to imitate some of the ornate metalworking of the period.
Would you like to see more art projects from Around the Ancient World?
The following lists each lesson we’ve covered by civilization and what projects we have done for them so far!
- Prehistory– Cave Paintings- Painting the Ancient Way
- Sumerians – Ancient Writing -Cylinder Seals in Clay
- Egyptians – Egyptian Art and Hieroglyphs- Multi Media/ Egyptian Headdress- Coming Soon!
- Assyrians and Babylonians –Near East Metalworking – Babylonian Art Lesson for Kids
- Phoenicians– Ancient Dyes- Purple Batik Cloths
- Ancient Africa– Akuaba Wooden Doll- Scratch Art
- Minoan and Mycenaean– Early Greek Masks-Paper Mache Masks
- Persians– Persian Carpets and Decor- Paper Weaving
- Ancient China- Tangrams- Tessellating Birds
- Mauryan Empire (Ancient India)- Rangoli Art and Spices- Spice Jars
- Greece- Etruscan Vases- TBA
- Rome- Mosaics- TBA